Exelon’s nuclear plant posturing includes massive rate hike

The latest opposition to Exelon’s proposal to save its power plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities has little to do with the two nuclear plants. Instead, a number of consumer and business groups are fighting what they call the largest utility rate hike ever proposed.

Exelon’s latest request from Illinois lawmakers is a 450-page proposal the company says will that’d save its the two endangered nuclear plants by classifying nuclear power as “carbon-friendly.” They would then qualify for government funds that they would use to modernize the two stations.

Without it, Exelon says the Clinton Power Station in Clinton, Ill., will close on June 1, 2017, and the Quad Cities Generating Station in Cordova, Ill., will close on June 1, 2018. The two plants have lost $800 million in the last seven years, according to the company.

The proposal would also offer credits for coal-fired power plants as a peace offering to Texas-based Dynegy, which owns coal-fired plants in southern Illinois and opposes the bill, and allow Exelon to increase rates.

Dave Lundy with the BEST Coalition, which represents a number of business and consumer groups, said Exelon’s proposal will cost around a billion dollars a year until 2044.

“This is going to be the largest rate hike in U.S. history,” Lundy said. “This legislation is going to cost $24 billion.”

The legislation would allow Exelon to move to “demand rate” pricing.

Demand rates would charge customers based on the peak price of their usage the month before. Julie Volin with AARP said that means if customers use their washing machine in the middle of the day, it could spike their power bill.

“The demand rate structure is going to limit people’s ability to actually live in their homes from 9 a.m. til 9 p.m.,” Volin said.

Volin says the Illinois Commerce Commission, which approves utility rate hikes should decide how much people pay for power, not lawmakers.

Exelon says the legislation is a way to guarantee about 1,500 jobs at the plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities and ensure their own viability into the future.

–Illinois News Network

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